Jessica Kelly
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The architect Denys Ladun paraphrased a Robert Browning poem to describe Richards’s work as a critic and editor: ‘Make no more giants! Just raise the general level.’ This quote epitomised Richards’s approach to architecture and journalism; he sought to improve the general condition of architecture, rather than promote individual expression or personalities. The Introduction sets out the book’s main premise that Richards’s life and career, particularly his preoccupation with anonymity and public participation, were an integral but previously overlooked facet of modern architecture. The Introduction explains the methodology of the book, which offers an alternative view on the history of modern architecture. Although the book is focused on Richards, it is not a conventional biography: rather than recounting his life from cradle to grave, the book traces Richards’s ideas about modern architecture, as articulated through his personal and professional life, and uses them as a lens through which to explore modern architecture. Richards’s work was focused on a particular audience, the architectural public, which was a middle-class, professional audience allied with architectural issues but not trained in architecture. Richards used architectural criticism as a tool for mediating modernism to the architectural public. The question of how modern architecture should engage with the architectural public persisted throughout Richards’s career and each chapter maps the evolving ideas of how criticism and the media could bridge the divide between architecture and its publics.

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No more giants

J.M. Richards, modernism and The Architectural Review


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